Books and DVDs: Leader of the Pack

How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life

by Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston

Crown Business

In a nutshell: Five necessary elements for creating balance.


This book tells the stories of women at the top, like Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon, and Gerry Laybourne, founder and former CEO of Oxygen Networks, and how they juggle a leadership role with their “second shift” as wife and mother. Authors Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston spent several years conducting interviews, and through their research, they found that these successful women shared five things: meaning (having a sense of purpose), framing (being an optimist), connecting (building relationships), engaging (taking action) and energizing (managing your energy flow). This uplifting read is packed with positive reinforcement and ideas on how to integrate these five elements into your life.


How to Thrive as a Teacher Leader

by John G. Gabriel

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

In a nutshell: A practical guide that will take you from teacher to leader.


In response to a lack of material he found on the topic, John G. Gabriel penned a preparation manual for teachers moving into leadership positions, a challenge he himself faced when transitioning from high school English teacher to department chair. Teachers are natural catalysts for positive change, he says, and in this book he details strategies on how you can become a stronger voice within your academic system by embracing six elements of leadership: organizational, strategic, interpersonal, adaptive, motivational and instructional. He offers some basic career-counseling advice, and he emphasizes that part of becoming a good leader is creating a supportive team and helping those around you grow. The text is full of firsthand knowledge and examples, including a 54-page resource section with sample letters and e-mails, evaluation surveys, memos, interview questions and checklists to help put his suggestions into practice.


Other Duties as Assigned: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Expert Teacher Leadership

by Jan Burgess with Donna Bates

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

In a nutshell: Simple strategies for becoming an effective leader.


Author Jan Burgess mined her 30 years of experience in public education to create a teacher-friendly reference manual on leadership. In six parts, she addresses strategies for success, including how to build your team, adapt to changes in personnel and policy, encourage collective team brainstorming and gauge your progress. Using real-life scenarios, Burgess provides solutions for some common dilemmas teacher leaders face. At the end of each chapter, teacher-leader mentor Donna Bates (“Dear Donna”) responds to questions from teachers about specific leadership challenges. Also helpful are the list of resources for further research, small sidebars with thought-provoking questions and “A Teacher Leader’s Toolkit,” which includes checklists and templates for planning guides, meeting agendas and feedback surveys.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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